Circular Economy approaches for the electronics sector in Nigeria
About the Project
Led by the UN Environment Programme and executed locally by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency of Nigeria (NESREA), the project ‘Circular Economy Approach for the Electronics Sector in Nigeria’ was launched in 2019, with 2 million USD of funding provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and more than 13 million USD of co-financing offered by project partners.
The project brings together players from the government, the private sector, and civil society to kickstart a financially self-sustaining circular economy model for electronics in Nigeria, protecting the environment while creating safe employment for thousands of Nigerians. The project supports the Nigerian government in operationalising EPR schemes for electronics and is regarded as the first demonstration project in the electronics sector under the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE).
Nigeria is witnessing rapid information and communication technology transformation and is importing new, second-hand, and used electrical and electronic equipment. This rising sector is generating an ever-growing amount of electronic waste (e-waste) that is being collected and recycled unproperly and threatens the environment and the lives of informal workers.
The Nigerian government approved the National Environmental Regulations on the Electronics Sector in 2011, defining the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), but many difficulties still exist in practice. Challenges entail limited regulations enforcement, illegal trade of e-waste, the presence and dominance of the informal sector, outdated collection and recycling infrastructure, and insufficient financial schemes to tackle the e-waste issue.
The project has the following four components:
►COMPONENT 1. Implementation of EPR system for electronics (led by NESREA)
Development of a Guidance Document for the EPR implementation.
Development of the EPR database for the management of producers’ data and calculation of the levy fee
Estimation of levy for different product categories.
Training for government officials, database owner/ maintainer.
►COMPONENT 2. Pilot of collection activities (led by NESREA)
Collection of 300 tonnes of e-waste, including all product categories covered by the EPR system
Identification of optimal collection channels
Training for e-waste collectors on standards and best practices in terms of safety and health.
►COMPONENT 3. Pilot of recycling activities (led by NESREA)
Recycling of 300 tonnes of collected e-waste in certified recycling facilities in Nigeria.
Assessment of the technical performance of recycling centres and strengthening of their capacity for environmentally sound treatment of e-waste
Training for e-waste workers on standards and best practices in terms of safety and health.
►COMPONENT 4. Circular Economy and global outreach (led by UNEP)
Development of a report on circular economy for electronics in Africa
Training for producers and government officials in African countries on EPR and circular economy for electronics
Organisation of international events to engage global stakeholders to promote a circular economy in the electronics value chain.
Key Project Elements
This project supports the Nigerian government in developing a framework condition to implement a circular economy for electronics by influencing:
- The policy aspect: by laying the legal basis for EPR enforcement, setting timebound e-waste collection and recycling target for the EPR scheme, scoping and defining financial and physical responsibilities of stakeholders, as well as requirements on monitoring and reporting.
- The technical aspect: by developing the EPR database software and EPR levy calculation tool, conducting the e-waste collection and recycling pilot to understand the local treatment cost, and providing technical support to the producer responsibility organisation.
- The collaboration aspect: by systematically sharing knowledge and best practices and creating opportunities for stakeholders along the value chain to collaborate.
Key Achievements to Date
- Development of the Guidance Document for EPR implementation (2020) with technical support from UNEP and international stakeholders. The Guidance defines the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders and set up timebound targets for the effective implementation of the EPR scheme in Nigeria.
- Amendment of existing National Environment Regulation for EEE (2022). The revised Regulation binds all manufacturers and importers of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE), e-waste collection centers, and recycling facilities to register with the EPRON, and prohibits the suboptimal treatment of e-waste.
- Waste collecting and recycling pilots, in line with the new requirements of the Guidance for EPR implementation, to understand the local treatment cost for different EEE categories covered by the EPR system.
- Development of the BlackBox software and establishment of a comprehensive database of producers and importers, for the management of producers' market share data and the calculation of EPR fees for different product categories.
- Facilitation of a multi-stakeholder approach that stipulates stronger collaboration among government agencies, producers and importers, recyclers, and waste collectors, based on trust, knowledge sharing, and awareness.
“This project is different and thriving in the context of EPR implementation because it helped build synergy among public and private sector stakeholders. It was the first time we worked together effectively. It was a learning milestone for me.”
Ibukun Faluyi, Executive Secretary of EPRON
- Improvement of working conditions for informal workers in terms of safety and health and job security, through:
- Microcredits, entrepreneurships, membership of associations/ cooperatives as well as via formal registration and access to social security.
- Distribution of 500 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to informal collectors.
- 350 formal and informal collectors received training to improve their awareness and capacities to comply with the EHS requirement
“The project helped us to expand our business and improve our business practices. Through project trainings, we learned how to identify electronic waste and sort it properly, separate valuable parts safely, all using the personal protective equipment distributed by the project.”
Osawaru Esther Joy, Supervisor at Obanijesu Logistics Collection Company
- Publication of the Report on Circular Economy for Electronics in Africa which provides an overview of the current state of Circularity in electronics in Africa, identifies key issues, and proposes a roadmap with recommendations for a more circular electronics value chain.
Press Releases and Stories
- Press Release (5 Jan 2023): Nigeria acts to fight growing e-waste epidemic (Click here to read the press release)
- Press Release (19 Jun 2019): Nigeria turns the tide on electronic waste (Click here to read the press release)
- Web story: Dark skies, bright future: overcoming Nigeria’s e-waste epidemic (Click here to read the web story)
- Good Practice Brief: Finding Solutions for Electronic Waste with the Private Sector and Multi-Stakeholders Engagement (Click here to read the Brief)
>> Online training: “Promoting Circular Economy for electronics through the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach”
The training was organized by UNEP in partnership with the WEEE Forum and Erion on the 14th and 15th of November 2022. It brought together UNEP, NRESEA, EPRON, WEEE Forum, the Italian producer responsibility organisation, ERION, and the International Telecommunication Union, as well as policymakers and producers from more than 10 African countries.
The first session of the training “An introduction to EPR for electronics and the development of EPR for electronics in Nigeria” focused on the key elements of an EPR scheme for electronics, the European experience, and the development of EPR for electronics in African countries, especially in Nigeria. The second session “PRO operation and the practices in Italy and Nigeria” focused on key elements of PRO operation and the Nigerian and Italian experience. Through interactive discussion, the training event also addressed the questions from African stakeholders on EPR implementation and PRO operation.
The event led conversations regarding the stimulation of EPR development across Africa and hopes to have established a basis to encourage the advancement of current and new PROs on the continent.
Piloting the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme in Nigeria
This case study highlights three main achievements resulting from the EPR pilot that tested potential collection channels, determined local e-waste treatment costs, and promoted environmentally sound e-waste management and gender equality in Nigeria's electronics sector.
- Setting an EPR financial mechanism by understanding local collection and recycling costs and estimating the EPR fee based on local costs.
- Reducing the health and environmental risks associated with e-waste management practices by ensuring hazardous materials like mercury and Persistent Organic Pollutants in e-waste are recycled in an environmentally sound manner.
- Improving the health, security, and safety of waste management workers, including women who face various risks in the sector.
The study concludes with a summary of the next steps and key learnings that emphasize the importance of environ-mentally and socially responsible e-waste management with a focus on gender equality in the sector.
Gaining legal ground in the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for electronics in Nigeria
Strengthening legal efforts in Nigeria is crucial for successful implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems. By having the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency of Nigeria (NESREA) having the enforcing EPR laws create a more sustainable and accountable e-waste sector.
Developing and updating EPR legistlations helps clarify the different responsibilities and enforce producers to comply with their obligations and responsibility. However, effective EPR implementation will require further law enforcement measures.
The case study outlines two achievements of the "Circular Economy Approaches for The Electronics Sector In Nigeria" project towards establishing a stronger legal system in Nigeria:
- The development and gazette of the EPR Guidance document in 2020: the guidance defines the roles and responsibilities of the key public and private stakeholders, the product categories to be covered by the EPR scheme, and the collection and recycling targets.
- The amendment of the National Environmental (Electrical and Electronic Sector) Regulations in 2022: which legally requires EPR subscriptions and prohibits suboptimal treatment of e-waste.
The study concludes with a summary of key lessons and next steps, emphasizing the importance of enforcing EPR laws, engaging stakeholders, raising public awareness, and collaborating with regional and international partners.
Data management automation for the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for electronics in Nigeria
The establishment of an EPR database is critical in operationalising and formalising the management of EPR-related data. The EPR database allows e-waste flow tracking and EPR fee and recovery rate calculation while ensuring producers' information confidentiality and helping prevent counterfeiting activities.
The case study outlines the project’s efforts towards establishing this automation system in Nigeria in the following areas:
- Developing the EPR database: to manage producers’ market share data, calculate and collect the EPR fees.
- Registering Producers and products in the database: To ensure electronic and electrical producers are registered and to oversee the EPR operation.
- Securing the database: Enhancing producers' trust in the database and ensuring its confidentiality.
The study concludes with a summary of next steps and key learnings, emphasizing the importance of law enforcement, database registration, secure systems for producers, and encouraging the participation of producers in the database registration.
Initiating Circularity for electronic waste in Nigeria: A promising paradigm for treating e-waste globally
Over half a million tonnes of discarded electronic appliances are improperly processed in Nigeria every year, threatening the country's environment and the health of approximately 100,000 informal workers in the recycling industry.
With support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Nigeria has joined forces with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners to turn the tide on e-waste under the “Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics Sector in Nigeria” project. Led by UNEP and supported by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency of Nigeria (NESREA), the $15-million initiative brought together players from the Government, the private sector, and civil society to design and operationalise a financially self-sustaining circular economy (CE) for electronics in Nigeria.
The project aims to stimulate a CE pilot through an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme that serves as a model for countries facing similar challenges. EPR is an integrated waste management approach that extends the responsibility of manufacturers to the entire lifecycle of their product, particularly to the end-of-life treatment. By applying this approach, the producers will be obliged to commission for collecting, pre-treating and recycling their originated e-waste.
The project creates synergies among pre-existing elements of an EPR system in Nigeria to establish a sustainable management system and financing mechanism for EPR implementation. Establishing and enforcing a sustainable approach in Nigeria with supporting regulations and legally binding requirements is expected to recover and re-introduce usable materials into the value chain, dispose of hazardous e-waste streams in an environmentally sound manner, and create safe employment for Nigerian e-waste workers.
Towards a Circular Economy for the Electronics Sector in Africa: Overview, Actions and Recommendations
This report provides an overview of the current state of circularity in the electronics value chain in Africa, identifies key areas of concern, provides appropriate recommendations, and proposes priority actions to improve circularity of the sector.The recommendations focus on the individual life cycle stages of the electronics value chain, as well as on aspects that cut across the value chain. The transition towards a more circular electronics sector in Africa would require a holistic, coordinated approach bridging five key areas